Think of inquiry as a topographical map. It’s a living, interrelated place full of its own diversity, history and character. And then there are students, who bring their own understandings and experiences to the table. It begs the questions: How do you take a class full of differences to a place that can invite them all? How do you teach this?
A good topic for inquiry is open-ended enough to accept different approaches and points of view. It does not need to be broken into developmentally appropriate bits and pieces. In an inquiry, the questions asked and the work accomplished is seen as openings and enrichments towards understanding more about the topic itself. And it’s understanding that is relevant in the real world.
Well-designed inquiries are organized around powerful driving questions that make clear connections between activities and the underlying conceptual knowledge that one might hope to foster. Questions such as ‘what is fair?’, ‘why don’t things fall down, and why don’t they fall apart’, are starting points in developing foundational understandings of a topic.
- Jardine, D., & Kraemer, M. (n.d.). On the Nature of Inquiry: The Experienced Teacher.
- Barron, B. J. S., Schwartz, D. L., Vye, N. J., Moore, A., Petrosino, A., Zech, L., & Bransford, J. D. (1998). Doing With Understanding: Lessons From Research on Problem- and Project-Based Learning. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 7(3-4), 271–311.